Home Articles 10 Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream (+ Easy Alternatives)

10 Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream (+ Easy Alternatives)

From cream cheese to coconut cream, these are the best substitutes for heavy cream.

Sweet or savory, there’s a cream alternative here for every recipe.

Whipped Cream in a White Bowl with Lady Fingers and Coffee on the side

Heavy cream, whipping cream, double cream… whatever you call it, it’s delicious.

And it’s an integral part of many recipes, including breakfast dishes and desserts. 

Obviously, the substitute you choose will depend on what you’re making.

For example, coconut milk works great in sauces, but evaporated milk is often too sweet for savory dishes.

And, of course, there’s never a perfect alternative. But these substitutes for heavy cream come close.

Top 10 Heavy Cream Substitutes

1. Half-and-Half and Butter 

Half-and-half and butter work as a substitute because half-and-half already contains cream.

Plus, butter is made from cream. So really, it’s a fantastic option. 

Also, this version is much lower in fat but still tastes great.

If you whip it, it will thicken. But you won’t get stiff peaks, so it’s not the best for finishing desserts.

But if you’re making soup, sauce, or mac and cheese, this substitute will be your best friend. 

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of heavy cream with ⅞ cup (14 tablespoons) of half-and-half and ⅛ cup of melted butter (2 tablespoons).

Pouring Evaporated Milk in a Small Container

2. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is milk that has been heated, so most of the water dissipates. That leaves you with thicker milk. Just like cream.

It’s best in recipes where the cream remains liquid, such as soups, baked goods, and cream sauces.

It adds a lot of rich, milky flavor, though it is slightly sweeter than regular milk. So keep that in mind, as it may change the overall flavor of your dish.

I recommend using it in recipes that don’t call for a lot of cream and in cakes and bakes.

Though it will work well in dishes like pumpkin soup or spaghetti carbonara, where a bit of sweetness is welcome.

How to Substitute: Replace heavy cream with an equal amount of evaporated milk. 1 cup heavy cream = 1 cup evaporated milk. 

Fresh Coconut Milk in a glass bottle

3. Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is a fantastic vegan substitute for heavy cream.

I really like this one because it imparts a delicious tropical flavor. But it’s not overpowering, so feel free to use it in savory dishes, too.

It’s great for fall soups like butternut squash because it adds a hint of sweetness. It’s also ideal for smoothies and sauces.

Plus, you can use it to make dairy-free ice creams and puddings. Oh, and it’s a terrific dessert topping! 

Here’s how to whip it:

  • Chill a can of coconut cream (not coconut milk) overnight.
  • Carefully open the can and scoop out the solids.
  • Add some powdered sugar and whip it until it’s thick.

It should be thick enough to pipe or spoon over a slice of cake.

How to Substitute: Replace heavy cream with an equal amount of coconut cream. 1 cup heavy cream = 1 cup coconut cream. 

Fresh Milk in a White Container

4. Butter and Milk

This is obviously similar to the recipe at the top, but it’s the most readily available substitute.

After all, everyone has milk and butter in the fridge!

The main difference is the thickness of the final product. Though if you use whole milk, you probably won’t notice.

That said, since whole milk has a lower fat content, you’ll need to add a little more butter to enhance it.

From there, it will add a silky finish to creamy soups and sauces like Alfredo sauce, too. 

Again, this substitute is not suitable for whipping. 

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of heavy cream with ¾ cup of milk (12 tablespoons) and ¼ cup of melted butter (4 tablespoons or ½ stick). 

  • Let the butter cool, but add it to the milk when it’s still liquid.
  • Use a whisk to thoroughly mix them together. 
  • Whisk in 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour to thicken the mixture, if needed. 
Greek Yogurt in Glass Jars

5. Greek Yogurt and Milk

This is the way to go if you want to make something really thick and creamy. It’s also a good option if you want a bake to be extra moist.

But it’s best in cream sauces and soups.

To make the mixture, simply combine equal amounts of Greek yogurt and milk. It’s easiest to do it in a blender.

I suggest starting with half of each (1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup yogurt) and then going from there, depending on how thick or thin you need it.

The end result should be a similar consistency as heavy cream, with a slightly tangy finish. 

How to Substitute: Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup milk.

Low Fat Cream Cheese in a bowl with a bagel on the side

6. Cream Cheese

This is another fantastic option if you want a super thick, silky, and creamy finish.

It’s almost identical to the substitute above; only cream cheese is generally a lot thicker than yogurt.

You can add pure cream cheese to soups, sauces, and frostings because it’s creamy with just a hint of tang.

But you can also blend it with milk if you need something pourable. Start with half cream cheese and half milk, then adjust as needed.

This will not whip, but it’ll add a lot of moisture to cakes and cookies.

How to Substitute: Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with an equal amount of cream cheese. 1 cup heavy cream = 1 cup cream cheese. 

Cottage Cheese with Berries

7. Cottage Cheese and Milk

I know this sounds weird, but it’s actually a delicious way to substitute heavy cream.

Plus, cottage cheese is quite nutritious! It’s low-carb, high-protein, and has lots of calcium.

Like with the Greek yogurt mixture, you’ll combine equal parts cottage cheese and milk. Blend it together for a wonderfully creamy concoction. 

Just keep in mind you’ll need to blend this for longer, as cottage cheese has a slightly grainy finish.

You can also strain it if you want it completely smooth.

Add it to soups, sauces, and baked goods that work well with the distinct cheesy flavor.

It won’t whip, though, so keep it away from finished desserts.

How to Substitute: Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of milk. 

Sour Cream in a Wooden Spoon and Bowl

8. Sour Cream

Add a little tang to your recipe by using sour cream in place of heavy cream. It will make your dish wonderfully thick and lusciously creamy, too. 

Mix it with milk to think it out, or add it as is, depending on what you’re making.

I find the tangy flavor quite savory, so I only recommend using it when that would be a compliment.

Also, in recipes where you only need a small amount of cream.

For example:

  • Sour cream cookies are designed to offset the tang with sugar.
  • Something like ganache, which is just cream and chocolate, would not taste right or set properly with sour cream.

Sour cream can curdle, though, so you should only add it when the pan is off the heat.  

How to Substitute: Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup of milk.

Bowl of Corn Starch

9. Milk and Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a thickening agent and a fantastic way to thicken milk to a cream-like consistency.

This combo is ideal for sauces, puddings, and custards. Honestly, it works for any recipe that needs a bit of liquid cream – but not too much!

Just remember that cornstarch needs heat to thicken, so it won’t work in frosting or something like panna cotta.

It’s also not the best choice for baking, as cornstarch might affect the texture of the final product.

How to Substitute: 1 cup of heavy cream can be replaced with 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

  • Simply add the cornstarch to the milk and whisk thoroughly.
  • Add it to a warm pan of soup or sauce, mix, and let thicken.
Fresh Silken Tofu

10. Soy Milk and Silken Tofu

If you’re looking for a neutral-flavored plant-based heavy cream substitute, try soy milk and silken tofu.

Unlike coconut cream, this blend will not impart any flavor. So it’s ideal for almost any vegan recipe that calls for heavy cream.

Plus, it adds a lot of protein to your recipe! 

It whips better than many of the other options. But not as well as coconut cream.

So I find it’s best for savory dishes, like curry.

How to Substitute: Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/2 cup of silken tofu and 1/2 cup of soy milk.

  • To make the mixture, blend together equal parts soy milk and silken tofu.
  • You can do this in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  • The result should be soft and silky. 

The Best Heavy Cream Substitute to Use

Cuisine: American
Servings

1

serving
Prep time

5

minutes
Total time

5

minutes

From cream cheese to coconut milk, these are the best substitutes for heavy cream. Sweet or savory, there’s a cream alternative here for every recipe.

Ingredients

  • Option 1 – (Best for Cooking) Half-and-Half and Butter
  • ⅞ cup half-and-half

  • ⅛ cup of melted butter

  • Option 2 – (Best for Baking) Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

  • Option 3 – (Best for Whipping) Coconut Cream
  • 1 cup coconut cream

Instructions

  • (Best for Cooking) Half-and-Half and Butter
  • Swap 1 cup of heavy cream with ⅞ cup (14 tablespoons) of half-and-half and ⅛ cup of melted butter (2 tablespoons).
  • (Best for Baking) Evaporated Milk
  • Swap 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup of evaporated milk.
  • (Best for Whipping) Coconut Cream
  • Swap 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup of coconut cream.
Substitutes for Heavy Cream

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author avatar
Haley van der Ploeg
Haley van der Ploeg is a food writer and content creator for Insanely Good Recipes, where she authors blog posts, creates recipes, and crafts tantalizing photos.

Haley is passionate about food and its ability to gather people across cultures, languages, and generations. She believes everyone can learn to cook.

Most days, you can find Haley reading, baking elaborate cakes, and hosting get-togethers for friends and family. If Haley isn't home, she’s probably on a plane jetting off to exciting adventures and new cuisines.

She lives with her husband in the Netherlands and has taught him that vegetables *can* taste good.

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